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Lawmaker welcomes EO streamlining construction of telco towers

Rep. Jose “Joey” Salceda of Albay's second district thanked President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. (PBBM) for signing Executive Order No. 32 which streamlines the permitting procedure for telecommunications tower infrastructure and prevents the imposition of conditions like a city or municipal council resolution.

“It's an accomplishment he (Marcos Jr.) can certainly tout during the SONA,” Salceda said, referring to the upcoming State of the Nation Address of the President.

Marcos signed the order on July 4, 2023.

Salceda, chairman of the Ways and Means committee of the House of Representatives, has been calling for revisions to the Building Code that would mandate telecommunications infrastructure in condominiums as well as key business and government buildings to reserve spaces for telecommunications facilities.

Rep. Joey Salceda. PHOTO BY MIKE ALQUINTO
Rep. Joey Salceda. PHOTO BY MIKE ALQUINTO

“The expedited tower permitting policy boosted internet speeds between 2020 and 2022 by 140% while reducing prices by as much as 41%. Rarely do we do something right by way of policy. And it's an excellent move on the part of PBBM that he saw the wisdom in reviving it,” he said.

Executive Order 32 states that applications submitted by telecommunications service providers within the specified time frame are automatically granted.

Cities and municipalities have also been charged with creating one-stop shops for telecommunications facility development permits. There will also be a zero-backlog policy in place for applications with government entities.

Under House Bill 8534 that Salceda filed, “buildings, structures, and property developments shall be provided, as part of mandatory basic requirements, with telecommunications and ICT infrastructure in accordance with the relevant technical specifications and requirements defined by the industry and/or the latest Philippine electronics codes.”

“Telecom services are now as basic as plumbing. That was certainly the case with the pandemic, and that is now the case with work-from-home arrangements,” the lawmaker said.

Salceda said that there are at least 160,000 condominiums in Metro Manila alone, housing up to a million people, primarily working-class families, students, or young professionals who have the highest need for dependable and quick internet.

“Without specific mandates to ensure digital connectivity in such complexes, the ability of internet service providers and other telecommunications service providers to deliver to their clients will be significantly hampered,” Salceda said. “The Building Code, enacted in 1977, could not have anticipated this digital future. But we are now living in that future. The laws should work for us, not constrain us to the limits of previous generations' imagination.”

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